Belfast Telegraph

Glens will give Marcus Kane all the time he needs, reveals boss

Carrick R'gers 0 Glentoran 1

Safety first: Conor Pepper clears the danger as Gers striker Guillaume Keke closes in
Safety first: Conor Pepper clears the danger as Gers striker Guillaume Keke closes in

By Ian Callender

Marcus Kane will make his own decision whether to play in Glentoran's Boxing Day clash with Linfield after the devastating loss of his baby son.

The Glens captain missed Saturday's victory at the Loughshore Arena on an emotionally charged day when Carrick Rangers played their first game since learning of the death of Jerry Thompson.

Kane and his wife learned the heartbreaking news last Wednesday and his manger Mick McDermott confirmed that the club will wait as long as their skipper wants to make his return to football.

"He will make that decision. It's 100 per cent up to him, we will not be asking him or putting him under any pressure whatsoever, we'll let him have his time and he can make that decision," said McDermott, who paid tribute to Carrick for the way they remembered 24-year-old Thompson.

"It was terrible news for both teams but Carrick were outstanding, the way they came out and then they were clapped off the pitch so it's a credit to their fans as well."

Thompson's partner and their young son, in a Carrick No 21 jersey, were presented to the crowd before both teams and officials walked out for a minute's silence before kick-off, everyone wearing an amber No 21 jersey, which has now been retired by the club.

An emotional Niall Currie was proud of his players and the club. "It was another wholehearted performance," said the Gers boss.

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"I didn't know what the situation was going to be today, it was a wait and see scenario. Everybody deals with things differently but I couldn't be more proud of them. There was nothing in the game, we matched Glentoran on the park, one great finish was the difference.

"When you put things in perspective, we had Jerry's family all down - his partner and son, his mummy, daddy, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews - a very emotional day and as a club we're very proud of how we've dealt with everything, from the chairman down to every supporter.

"We're disappointed with the result but the day was much more than about football. We represented Jerry very well today and I think he would have been proud of us."

Glentoran won the game - maintaining their unbeaten Premiership record against the Gers - with a unstoppable strike from Navid Nasseri in the 73rd minute, after another impressive second half performance by McDermott's side.

"We made a couple of tactical changes at half-time, young Navid came into the middle of the park and Elvio (van Overbeek) on the right," said the Glens boss. "Both are skilful players and with big Cameron (Stewart) coming in on top, those bodies definitely made a big difference.

"First halves of matches are always tight but, second-half, the game opens up a bit more and the quality rises to the top.

Carrick also made changes after the break but one was enforced, after James Ferrin damaged sustained a knee injury in one of a number of physical challenges.

"James has probably done knee ligaments so that could be him out for six to eight weeks, a huge blow," added Currie.

"We had to move Daniel Kelly into the centre of defence to replace him but, while Daniel can play anywhere, we have found a home for him in the No 6 role and we missed him there.

"Chris Rodgers also rolled his ankle so that's a worry. We are operating on a 16-man senior squad and we are down to the bare bones.

"But we'll come in on Monday night for a light session and we'll see where we're at."

The good news is that skipper Mark Surgenor, who was suspended, returns for the derby clash at Larne on Boxing Day but to play so many games over the holiday period is a huge ask for part-time players, insists Currie.

"With four games in nine or 10 days, it's impossible to get maximum physique from the players, even 20-year-olds, so we are going to have to make changes," he added.

"But we're not far away from being a really good side and hopefully we can get one or two players in next month of the quality we're looking at."

CARRICK: Hogg, Rodgers, Ferrin (Hassin, 70 mins), Loughran, Chapman, Faulkner, D Kelly, Anderson (Cherry, 78 mins), Neale, Nixon, Keke (Smith, 60 mins). Unused subs: McAuley, Carson, McGreevy, E Kelly.

Glentoran: Antolovic, Pepper, Peers, Garrett, McClean, Nasseri, Plum, Gallagher, Herron (van Overbeek, 59 mins), Murray (Stewart, 63 mins), McDaid. Unused subs: Morris, Birney, Frazer, Smith, O'Neill.

Referee: Jamie Robinson (Lurgan)

Man of the match: Navid Nasseri

Match rating: 6/10

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